Militancy takes toll of 9 journalists

11 May 2008
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: The killing of Daily Excelsior chief photographer Ashok Sodhi while covering an encounter between militants and security forces today brings to nine the number of prominent newspersons killed in the State in the last 18 years of militancy. Sodhi, who was covering a shoot-out between security forces and militants in Samba, was killed when a bullet fired by ultras pierced his head. Another senior journalist who fell victim to militancy was Radio journalist and Assistant Director of Doordarshan Lassa Koul, who was shot dead by militants in Srinagar in March 1990. His death was followed by that of ANI photo journalist Mustaq Ali in a parcel bomb explosion on September 7, 1995. Two other journalists, Yousef Jameel of the BBC and Habib Naqash of The Asian Age escaped with injuries in the blast. On January 1, 1997 Doordarshan journalist Altaf Ahmed Faktoo was shot dead in Srinagar. On March 16, the same year Doordarshan part-time journalist Saidian Shafi was shot dead along with his body guard in Srinagar. This was followed by the killing of Hindustan Times photo journalist Pradeep Bhatia in a landmine blast in Srinagar on August 10, 2000. Parvaz Mohammad Sultan, editor of a local news agency, was gunned down by Hizbul Mujahideen militants in 2003. Senior reporter of Information Department Abdul Majid Bhat was killed in a blast in Doda town on May 9, 2004. Another scribe Asiya Nabi was killed in a landmine blast in Kupwara on April 20, 2004. An Information Department Cultural Officer A K Abrol and two staffers of the Department had died in serial blasts at M A Stadium, Jammu on January 26, 1995 in an attempt made on the life of the then Governor K V Krishna Rao. Besides them, over 18 journalists have been injured during militancy. Some of the prominent journalists who escaped with injuries in bomb explosions and attacks include Zafar Iqbal (NDTV), Zaffar Mehraj, Yousef Jameel, Habib Naqash, Tauseef Mustafa, Muzaffar Salam and Shahid Rashid.